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Gerard Cherizol and his Escape Hybrid  (Source: New York Times)
Ford leads the way with its Escape Hybrid

In May of 2007, DailyTech reported on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement that all New York City (NYC) yellow cabs would be hybrids by the year 2012. At the time of the story, 90 percent of the taxis roaming the streets of NYC were the venerable Ford Crown Victoria.

The higher initial costs of hybrids versus traditional taxis like the Crown Vic were once seen as a huge drawback by some cab drivers, but the inevitable 2012 deadline is pushing more and more to adopt hybrids. According to a recent story by the New York Times, 1,020 of the 13,150 taxis (7.8%) scurrying through NYC are hybrids.

The list of hybrids currently seeing service in NYC shouldn't be a surprise to many. There are 92 Toyota Highlanders, 18 Toyota Prius', 31 Toyota Camrys, and 23 Nissan Altimas in the hybrid fleet. The most popular hybrid by far, however, is the Ford Escape Hybrid with a whopping 845 units.

Ford Escape Hybrid taxi drivers were reporting fuel savings of $20 to $31 per shift last year in San Francisco. Those figures are holding firm in NYC this year -- Gerard Cherizol, a Ford Escape Hybrid taxi driver, says that he saves $20 to $25 per day compared to his now defunct Crown Vic.

"This one, I’m in love, especially since this is the first car I bought," said 25-year veteran Cherizol. "It’s so fast, I pass like a little bird on the highway."

All is not perfect with the hybrid Escapes, however. Some older passengers have complained about the higher step-in height of the Escape versus the Crown Vic. Also, some drivers are a bit leery of the clear plastic partition that separates the driver from the front passenger seat -- this is in addition the partition already in place to separate the driver from the rear passengers. Many are concerned that the partition would be a hindrance in the unlikely event that a collision would cause the driver's door to become jammed.

"The space is not as good as in a Crown Victoria, and I can’t relax because of the plastic partition," said a driver who wished to remain anonymous. "Some drivers are afraid of accidents because of the partitions."

Other downsides include slightly more expensive replacement parts and less knowledgeable mechanics when it comes to repairing hybrids.

Most hybrid taxi drivers, however, are content with the fuel savings achieved by their vehicles. The Ford Escape Hybrid is rated at 34 MPG in the city in front-wheel drive guise. In addition, Ford says that most of its hybrid Escapes go 200,000 miles or more without any problems with the battery pack used to power the electric motor in and around NYC. Likewise, some Prius' have even managed to pass the 250,000 mile mark on original batteries.

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By Hulk on 4/28/2008 12:53:10 PM , Rating: 2
This is definitely a good start as NYC driving is primarily start and stop with low top speeds so aerodynamics isn't a major concern therefore the ability to recoup deceleration energy via regenerative braking is a major advantage in this driving environment.

But regenerative braking isn't 100% effective so it seems like moving to a less massive vehicle would be a good idea. Even a hybrid minivan would be lighter and still as roomy as the escape.

It a step in the right direction.

By DigitalFreak on 4/28/2008 1:15:33 PM , Rating: 4
You work with what you can get.

By ElFenix on 4/28/2008 1:17:34 PM , Rating: 5
any how many hybrid minvans are there?

ford escape weighs 3500 lbs. chrysler town & country weighs 4500 lbs.

so, no, it wouldn't be lighter. at all.

By Keeir on 4/28/2008 4:30:49 PM , Rating: 3
Mmmm... it seems he is fairly correct in that Ford Escape Hybrid wieghs less than most mini-vans

The problem with your suggestion is what the hybrids are replacing.

The hybrids are not replacing "normal" sized cars such as Ford Focus/Fusion/500. They are replacing Crown Vics. Crown Vics are huge frickin cars. They get terrible fuel economy, like 15-16 MPG in the city. Taxi drivers have always had the choice of more efficient and smaller autos but haven't because of the added value of the larger car to thier business.

Sure it would be great to use a prius, but a prius is -significantly- smaller than a Crown Vic in all dimensions. A Ford Escape appears to be a better compromise. I mean, the drivers and companies are the ones choosing.

By ElFenix on 4/28/2008 6:46:08 PM , Rating: 2
the *non-hybrid* version weighs that much according to carpoint. i picked the non-hybrid because there are no hybrid minivans to compare with, afaik. a hybrid system probably weighs about the same in either installation, so the minivan continues to weigh half a ton more than the escape. all that extra weight means less fuel efficiency, especially in the taxi cab role.

By theapparition on 4/28/2008 1:37:01 PM , Rating: 3
Richshaws, FTW!

By grath on 4/28/2008 9:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
Rickshaws still have considerable carbon footprints... <rim shot>

By spluurfg on 4/28/2008 1:45:57 PM , Rating: 2
I think the Escape looks like a good compromise... I'm not sure if a Minivan would be any lighter, and Crown Vics tended to have trouble fitting two 27" pieces of luggage, where as it looks like the Escape would handle that well -- great for two passenger Airport runs, which are not uncommon.

By phxfreddy on 4/28/2008 5:29:22 PM , Rating: 2
Forcing anything in the marketplace is a bad idea. Period. "A step in the right direction" it is not. This will all come about naturally most likely. If not is not meant to be.

By theoflow on 4/29/2008 10:03:49 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed that this is a step in the right direction. Being a NYC resident, I've always had a somewhat hateful relationship as both a pedestrian and a driver with taxi's; the Crown Vic in particular. That and the fact that many unmarked police cars are Crown Vic's as well. =)

They do not get great gas mileage and if you look at the segment that the Crown Vic actually sells in, it is an upscale full size car. It is a FACT that for NYC driving, hybrids are the best suited for the purposes of today. To make matters worse, taxi drivers are a tad aggressive with the gas peddle which kills fuel economy even more.

As for the early statistics, $20-$30 of gas a SHIFT!?! A cab driver could easily make up for the difference in price quite easily make up the price premium of hybrids in a year and reduce emissions and demand for fuel.

I'm also under the very SUBJECTIVE impression that driver's with hybrids are safer drivers and although more aggressive than drivers in general, are not typical lead footed drivers. Safer roads as well?

We need hybrid buses.
By daftrok on 4/28/2008 1:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
Hydraulic Hybrid technology is something that all buses need.

Granted it requires more space than batteries but its much cheaper and can be implemented in current vehicles (you don't have to make new buses). This would be a great step in fuel efficiency for big vehicles.

RE: We need hybrid buses.
By TheSpaniard on 4/28/2008 2:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
there are also full electric designs that have been worked on (also retrofits) that have higher cost/benefit ratio

PS: I worked in in public transit in Lee County for a bit

they actually worked well in Miami beach (until someone got hit by one for not "hearing" it)

RE: We need hybrid buses.
By dragonbif on 4/28/2008 2:48:34 PM , Rating: 2
LOL we could install speakers in the busses so it makes some sound. Like say the song "The Wheels on the bus".

RE: We need hybrid buses.
By ElFenix on 4/28/2008 6:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
the light rail trolley here in houston has speakers on it that play train sounds so that people can hear it coming.

RE: We need hybrid buses.
By TheSpaniard on 4/29/2008 8:52:55 AM , Rating: 2
the miami beach buses actually do have speakers on them that play "the sound of the engine"

RE: We need hybrid buses.
By Tsuwamono on 4/28/2008 4:42:51 PM , Rating: 3
Natural Selection.

RE: We need hybrid buses.
By Calin on 4/29/2008 2:31:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, higher cost for the same benefit. Just what everyone needs

RE: We need hybrid buses.
By TheSpaniard on 4/29/2008 8:57:34 AM , Rating: 2
same benefit? how is drawing power from turkey point (nuclear facility) the same as burning diesel at a layover at the end of a route? while buses do have lots of stop and go, at the end of every route is a 15-30 minute layover for the schedule to catch up to the bus.

I wish I had the data from when Dade county did the comparison so you could see the difference

PS: I know for a fact that the 45 ft Gilligs cost $300 K a conversion to full electric powerplants. I am unaware of what the origional costs were for the hybrid drivetrains. only that Dade found the full-electric better

Other Taxi
By Etern205 on 4/28/2008 6:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
In NYC there are other Hybrids taxis, but it's just you don't see them too much.

Some include the Nissan Altima Hybrid
Lexus RX400H and many more.

pic of the Nissan

THAT is a taxi...
By Plasmoid on 4/28/08, Rating: -1
RE: THAT is a taxi...
By tallguywithglasseson on 4/28/2008 3:06:47 PM , Rating: 5
I think you missed the part about how NYC isn't in Europe, so hybrids are allowed down the roads.

Also, the Escape is by no means a 7 person vehicle. It's a very small SUV.

And you seem to have also missed that the hybrid Escape gets 34 MPG city, and that however many litres the engine has is less relevant when it shuts off at idle to let the electric engine take over.

There's probably some other stuff you're missing but that's just the obvious stuff.

RE: THAT is a taxi...
By therealnickdanger on 4/28/2008 3:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
I know two people with non-hybrid Escapes - good little SUVs. I could see on of these carrying 4 passengers very easily along with their carry-ons and a couple big suitcases (plus more on the roof rack).

Considering CVs get under 13MPG city, this is a pretty huge improvement. We might even see a reduction in fare prices if fuel costs weren't rising...

RE: THAT is a taxi...
By Oakley516 on 4/28/2008 10:44:30 PM , Rating: 2
If fuel costs weren't rising, the taxi drivers could keep using their Crown Victoria's.

RE: THAT is a taxi...
By Noya on 4/29/2008 3:17:41 AM , Rating: 2
If fuel costs weren't rising, the taxi drivers could keep using their Crown Victoria's.

At least until the 2012 mandate, allowing hybrid prices to fall. But, I'm sure fuel will be at least $5/gal by mid-summer.

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